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Buying a netcam
Mike Dunphy, Photographer
Toronto | ON | Canada | Posted: 8:34 PM on 12.01.04
->> Could any of you fine shooters advise who sells NHL approved Netcams?
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Ed J. Szalajeski, Photographer
Portland | ME | USA | Posted: 9:57 PM on 12.01.04
->> NHL what is that?

Mike, this thread Rich Burnham posts Dave Sanford as being someone you might be able to purchase such a device from.

Though it might be a while before it sees NHL action.

Ed Szalajeski
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Mike Mohaupt, Student/Intern
Grand Forks | ND | USA | Posted: 10:02 PM on 12.01.04
->> Mike I am building one and it looks to be pretty promising. I will test it out this weekend at some of the games. If it works I can tell you how I did it and give you my plans. So far I have spent 24 bucks on supplies and it still follows NHL regulations.

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Jamie Sabau, Photographer
Pickerington | OH | US | Posted: 11:34 PM on 12.01.04
->> OK, enough with the buying of the Net Cams. I know I said a couple of years ago that I would post on Sportshooter how to build your own. Sorry 'bout that. I had great intentions but just was too busy to follow through.

In a nutshell: Go to your local, friendly neighborhood plastics shop(not a retailer, but someone who makes customized plastic pieces, you know, like business card holders and those menu holders at the diner) and ask them to bend a 1/4" piece of Lexan into a right angle. This will form the front and bottom of your box. The dimensions of this piece of plastic depends on the size of the box you want. The NHL specifies a box NO BIGGER than 8.5" wide x 6.75" deep x 6.75" vertical. To account for the bend in the plastic that is going to give an intial piece of Lexan that measures about 8.5" wide by about 13.75" long.

Suggestion #1: Add about another inch or so and have a second bend made at the top of the platic (top of your face piece) that is about an inch in depth to facilitate easier and more secure attachment of the soft-sided top of the box.

Suggestion #2: Don't make the box to NHL specs. Make it smaller. When completed to maximum allowed size your Net Cam is going to be pretty big, especially for fitting inside the net on the back support. Because of the angle of that bar, if you want to mount it right in front of the support bar you are going to find it difficult to mount and, worse yet, find it jutting out too far. What happens then is that the box is too easily whacked around and out of position, rendering it useless until the end of the period. Trust me. I had too many instances where I would spend an extra hour setting it up meticulously in the net before the game only to watch it get swiped by the goalie's stick only 32 seconds into the 1st period and end up facing the ice inside the net. Doesn't matter how great it looks or how much time you put into setting it up. It ain't worth shit if you can't shoot with it all period. Determine what camera and radio(es) you are going to use in it (more on that later) and design the dimensions to house just those components in the most efficient manner. Don't make the box any bigger than that.

Ok, so this is, potentially, your most expensive part of the project. When I did it four years ago it cost me about $110. But I had a total of three bends put into the Lexan. My plastics guy was charging me more for more bends. You can save $ by only having one or two bends done.

Once you've got your plastic it's time to make the rest of the box. Basically, unless you can sew yourself, you're probably going to want to enlist the help of a foam specialist who makes custom products (you know, gymnastics mats, foam padded wall coverings you see in some high school gyms, etc.). The simplest design you can give them is a tri-fold piece that would form the two sides and top of the box and then a separate piece for the back (you want it removable so you can access the camera to load film (yeah film) or cards without removing the whole covering. Basically, think of the foam partions in your camera backpack or Domke bags. Same principle. Same type of foam. Same material. Your trifold piece should have three pieces of foam sewn in with flaps on the edges where they will sew Velcro. So, really, it has five sections because the two end sections (about an inch wide) wrap underneath the plastic and attach to Velcro you've attached to the bottom of the box. Remember that extra bend I told you about? If you have that bend put in you can have Velcro sewn to the bottom of the middle foam section so you can attach the top of the box more securely. Also, don't forget to design flaps that have Velcro on backside of the side and top pieces. This is so the back flap, which is a single section with flaps with Velcro on all four sides, can be attached. Confused yet? Just remember, you're saving about $300-$400 dollars doing it yourself.

I honestly don't know what the name of the foam or material is needed to make the covering. I just took a mock up made out of cardboard, the bended plastic and a camera bag divider insert and explained what I needed and that it had to be made out of this material (handing them the divider) with the same type foam. Tell them the outside of the covering has to be made of white fabric while the inside is to be made of black fabric. Essentially, they're sandwiching a piece of foam between white and black fabric. If you don't have them use black fabric you'll be gaffer taping the inside with black tape anyhow. Intially, the boxes sold by Dave Sandford didn't come with a black inside. So, even after spending $500 you still had to tape or paint the inside black.

This part cost me about $125 four years ago to be custom made.(Ok, so I lied. This may be the most expensive part of the project) You may be able to do it cheaper. Bottom line. Dave Sandford is going to charge $500 (last time I checked which was a while ago) and you still have to buy the hardware to mount the camera inside and mount the whole thing to the net. Doing it yourself, or at least hiring local plastics and foam specialists to build your own design is going to cost you much, much less and you still have to buy the hardware to mount the camera and the box.

One last caveat: Don't use a digital camera. Here's why. Even when I started this four years ago I was using an EOS1 with a PB-E1 battery pack (looks like the higher speed booster but shoots less fps and takes four AA batteries). But because I had to keep the camera always awake to increase my chances of getting a usable shot, I would go through battery changes after every period. Sometimes the batteries would die in the middle of the period. Remember what I said about it being useless? That problem is likely to be worse with a digital camera. It may be easier to throw your D10 you have lying around in there. But it won't seem easier when you hit the remote button on that once in a lifetime opportunity to get the greatest net camera shot ever and nothing happens because your batteries just died. Besides, you've already cropped out 60% of your shot (even with a fisheye) and even with the camera always awake the lag is way too long. Trust me, it happens way faster around the net than you think.

Take that $300-$400 you saved building it yourself and buy an old Nikon FM2N with MD-12. The only thing the batteries are needed for there are to transport the film. Tape up the mirror before putting on a Nikkor 16mm and you've got a camera that's always awake, sipping battery power with a lag that rivals a Hasselblad with its mirror up. It's also cheaper than an old digi cam if it should happen to get trashed. And you were going to throw away all that Fujichrome you had sitting in your freezer. Shame on you.
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Craig Melvin, Photographer
Olean | NY | US | Posted: 11:51 PM on 12.01.04
->> Hi MIke,
Dave Sandford and his dad fabricated the one box that was actually authorized by the NHL in their nets. But, now that there is no such league, (and may never be again) you can also build your own.
I own one of Dave's prototypes, it was NHL approved. I love it because it is made partially of goalie equipment, (being an ex-goalie) and its VERY light. It also will flex when blasted with a slapshot so the camera/lens/remotes won't be damaged. But then your photos after impact have some interesting angles, because the box is built for the safety of the players and it will MOVE upon impact.
Best of luck,
Craig Melvin
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Darren Carroll, Photographer
Cedar Creek (Austin) | TX | USA | Posted: 11:52 PM on 12.01.04
->> Jamie,

Good info. It's always amazed/saddened/frustrated me that these days everyone is so keen on doing things the "easy" way that we forget that a good part of why photography is such an art (and a skill) is because of the ingenuity involved.

No offense to the guys who want to know where to buy one of these products of NHL Images' regulatory idiocy, but the guys who paved the way for us--the Zimmermans, the Kauffmans, the Silks, Kluetmeiers, et al--never asked "where can I buy a device that does x,y,or z?" They saw what they wanted to do, analyzed the problem, and manufactured a solution. They realized that, as Robert Beck likes to say, photography is all about problem solving.

Of course, if you still want to waste 500 bucks on something that a) you can make for about $150, b) you really don't need anyway, and c) you're only required to have because a league that isn't playing any games this year says you need one, then be my guest.
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Craig Melvin, Photographer
Olean | NY | US | Posted: 12:08 AM on 12.02.04
->> Hi Darren,
Its been way too long since I have seen you and hope you are doing well.
I have also built four personal ones myself. But the $500 model was gratis, or I would have never purchased it.
Nice we don't have to deal with all those beyond silly NHL rules.
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Daniel Horan, Student/Intern, Photographer
St. Bonaventure | NY | USA | Posted: 5:20 PM on 12.02.04
->> Hey Mike, drop me an e-mail, I tried to e-mail you after we talked at the Bills game in October but your account isn't working.

I would also support that you design the box yourself and make it smaller than the NHL size. Remember the regulations state that is the largest size of the box, far bigger than you'd ever need it. I made mine two years ago with the help of a friend of mine's father who is a glazer (read: free lexan!) after I designed the box using a cardboard prototype as a real-life pattern. That way I could put the camera and lens inside the cardboard while it was in the design process.

Film is still the way to go! In addition to really crappy battery life and unpredictability of power failure, you want WIDE and the digital 1.5x or even the 1D's 1.3x crop is pretty rough inside a net that ends not more than 3 feet from your lens. The FM2 is a great suggestion (particularly in the cold enviroment), but any film body will work since FPS is not a big consideration when you're using strobes (oh yeah, and if you're using a netcam without strobes...then you better be using it outside, because it'll be way too dark in most rinks)

Hope that helps.

Happy Shooting,
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Jason Witherspoon, Photographer, Assistant
Edmonton | AB | Canada | Posted: 8:48 PM on 12.07.04
->> Jamie,
Any chance you could post pics for those of us instructionally challenged individuals? I'd love a front, back, top, bottom, etc. but I'll take what I can get.

Thanks for the directions.

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Mike Dunphy, Photographer
Toronto | ON | Canada | Posted: 12:41 PM on 12.08.04
->> Darren:

No offence taken. However, what if 1) you have a full-time job and family that prevents you from having the time to build one yourself, 2) Money is not the issue, and 3) the OHL requires the same box spec as the NHL?

Appreciate the comments and the philosophy. P.S. there's medication for all those maladies you complain about. Maybe it time you hang up the shutter.

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Jonas Carlson, Photographer
Stockholm | SE | Sweden | Posted: 4:30 AM on 07.19.05
->> I will pick up this old thread, is there anyone out there with a spare netcam-box?

I am trying to introduce this kind of shooting to the Swedish elite hockeyleague but I think the only way to do it is to reffer to the NHL wich allows netcams.

So if anyone has a spare box, please let me know.
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Craig Glover, Photographer
London | ON | Canada | Posted: 9:11 PM on 06.18.06
->> I'm looking to build a net cam box for an upcoming lacrosse tournament, and am looking for some advice as to how the box is attached to the clamp/magic arm. If anyone could shed some light on the matter, I can stop scratching my head like a monkey and start building the thing!
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Peter Huoppi, Photographer
Burlington | VT | USA | Posted: 8:04 AM on 06.19.06
->> Drew Hallowell has done this with great success. Try contacting him through his member page:
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Richard Denham, Photographer
Niagara/Toronto/Buffalo | On | Canada | Posted: 8:36 AM on 06.19.06
->> Craig, I take it your talking about the worlds at UWO in July. I was thinkiung about the same thing, untill I had to back out, wife is do on championship weekend, and being 2 hrs away is a long ride when it's your first, but I will definately have to at least make the final game. Anyways, let me know how it turns out, I would love to build one for hockey in hamilton this year.
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Thread Title: Buying a netcam
Thread Started By: Mike Dunphy
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